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All privily went hame their way;
After syne, with mediatioun
The whether, upon the morn, when he
Radure3 in prince is a gude thing;
He gart them all have sic dreading,
He led with radure sae his land,
1 Left. Ellis
whom nothing else is known, may be classed with the Prick of Conscience and Pierce Plowman's Vision, English compositions of the immediately preceding age. Thus, it appears as if literary tastes and modes travelled northward, as more frivolous fashions do at this day, and were always predominant in Scotland about the time when they were declining or becoming extinct in England.
The last of the romantic or minstrel class of compositions in Scotland was The Adventures of Sir William Wallace, written about 1460, by a wandering poet usually called
In all time that he was regnand, That nane durst well withstand his will, All winning bowsome to be him till. Wyntoun has been included in this section of our literary history, because, although writing after 1400, his work is one of a class, all the rest of which belong to the preceding period. Some other Scottish writers who were probably or for certain of the fifteenth century, may, for similar reasons, be here introduced. Of one named HUTCHEON, and designed of the Awle Ryall'-that is, of the Hall Royal or Palace-it is only known that he wrote a metrical romance entitled the Gest of Arthur. Another, called CLERK, of Tranent,' was the author of a romance entitled The Adventures of Sir Gawain, of which two cantos have been preserved. They are written in stanzas of thirteen lines, with alternate rhymes, and much alliteration; and in a language so very obsolete, as to be often quite unintelligible. There is, however, a sort of wildness in the narrative, which is very striking.* The Howlate, an allegorical satirical poem, by a poet named HOLLAND,
4 Without rigour.
Of the author nothing is known but that he was blind from his infancy; that he wrote this poem, and made a living by reciting it, or parts of it, before company. It is said by himself to be founded on a narrative of the life of Wallace, written in Latin by one Blair, chaplain to the Scottish hero, and which, if it ever existed, is now lost. The chief materials, however, have evidently been the traditionary stories told respecting Wallace in the minstrel's own time, which was a century and a half subsequent to that of the hero. In this respect, The Wallace resembles The Bruce; but the longer time which had elapsed, the unlettered character of the author, and the comparative humility of the class from whom he would chiefly derive his facts, made it inevitable that the work should be much less of a historical document than that of the learned archdeacon of Aberdeen. It is, in reality, such an account of Wallace as might be expected of Montrose or Dundee from some unlettered but ingenious poet of the present day, who should consult only Highland tradition for his authority. It abounds in marvellous stories respecting the prowess of its hero, and in one or two places grossly outrages real history; yet its value has on this account been perhaps understated. Within a very few years past, several of the transactions attributed by the blind minstrel to Wallace, and heretofore supposed to be fictitious-as, for example, his expedition to France -have been confirmed by the discovery of authentic evidence. That the author meant only to state real facts, must be concluded alike from the simple unaffectedness of the narration, and from the rarity of deliberate imposture, in comparison with credulity, as a fault of the literary men of the period. The poem is in ten-syllable lines, the epic verse of a later age, and it is not deficient in poetical effect or elevated sentiment. A paraphrase of it into modern Scotch, by William Hamilton of Gilbertfield, has long been a favourite volume amongst the Scottish peasantry: it was the study of this book which had so great an effect in kindling the genius of Robert
Till Irvine water fish to tak he went,
To lead his net a child furth with him yede,1
It were reason, methink, ye should have part, Waith should be dealt, in all place, with free heart.' He bade his child, Give them of our waithing.' The Southron said, 'As now of thy dealing We will not tak; thou wald give us o'er small.' He lighted down and frae the child took all. Wallace said then, Gentlemen gif ye be, Leave us some part, we pray for charity. Ane aged knight serves our lady to-day : Gude friend, leave part, and tak not all away.' Thou shall have leave to fish, and tak thee mae, All this forsooth shall in our flitting gae. We serve a lord; this fish shall till him gang.' Wallace answered, said, 'Thou art in the wrang.' 'Wham thous thou, Scot? in faith thou 'serves a blaw.' Till him he ran, and out a swerd can draw. William was wae he had nae wappins there But the poutstaff, the whilk in hand he bare. Wallace with it fast on the cheek him took, With sae gude will, while of his feet he shook. The swerd flew frae him a fur-breid on the land. Wallace was glad, and hint it soon in hand; And with the swerd awkward he him gave Under the hat, his craig in sunder drave, By that the lave6 lighted about Wallace, He had no help, only but God's grace. On either side full fast on him they dang, Great peril was gif they had lasted lang. Upon the head in great ire he strak ane; The shearand swerd glade to the collar bane. Ane other on the arm he hit so hardily, While hand and swerd baith in the field can lie. The tother twa fled to their horse again; He stickit him was last upon the plain. Three slew he there, twa fled with all their might After their lord; but he was out of sight, Takand the muir, or he and they couth twine. Till him they rade anon, or they wald blin,7 And cryit, Lord, abide; your men are martyred down Right cruelly, here in this false region. Five of our court here at the water bade,8 Fish for to bring, though it nae profit made. We are scaped, but in field slain are three.' The lord speirit,9 How mony might they be?' 'We saw but ane that has discomfist us all.' Then leugh he loud, and said, 'Foul mot you fall! Sin' ane you all has put to confusion. Wha meins it maist the devil of hell him drown This day for me, in faith, he bees not sought.' When Wallace thus this worthy wark had wrought, Their horse he took, and gear that left was there, Gave ower that craft, he yede to fish nae mair. Went till his eme, and tald him of this deed, And he for woe well near worthit to weid,11
And said, 'Son, thir tidings sits me sore,
And, be it known, thou may tak scaith therefore.'
[Escape of Wallace from Perth.]
[Wallace, betrayed by a woman in Perth, escapes to Elcho Park, in the neighbourhood, killing two Englishmen by the way. The English garrison of the town, under Sir John Butler, commence a search and pursuit of the fugitive hero, by means of a bloodhound. Wallace, with sixteen men, makes his way out of the park, and hastens to the banks of the Earn.]
As they were best arrayand Butler's route,
Sternis, by than, began for till appear,
By east Dupplin, where they this tarry made.
Fawdon was left beside them on the land; The power came, and suddenly him fand; For their sloth-hound the straight gait till him yede, Of other trade she took as than no heed.
The sloth stoppit, at Fawdon still she stude,
1 Haste. 2 Ascending ground. 3 Broken reputation
Dissemblit weel, that no man sould them ken, Richt in effeir, as they were Englishmen. Kerly beheld on to the bauld Heroun, Upon Fawdon as he was lookand down, A subtle straik upward him took that tide, Under the cheeks the grounden swerd gart glide, By the gude mail, baith halse and his craig bane In sunder strak; thus endit that Chieftain. To ground he fell, feil folk about him thrang, Treason! they cried, traitors was them amang! Kerly, with that, fled out soon at a side, His fallow Stephen than thoucht no time to bide. The fray was great, and fast-away they yede, Laigh1 toward Earn; thus scapit they of dreid. Butler for woe of weeping micht not stint, Thus recklessly this gude knickt they tynt. They deemit all that it was Wallace men, Or else himself, though they could not him ken. 'He is richt near, we shall him have but fail, This feeble wood may him little avail.' Forty were passed again to Sanct-Johnstoun, With this dead corse, to burying made it boune. Parted their men, syne diverse wayis raid; A great power at Dupplin still there baid." Till Dareoch the Butler passed but let; At sundry fuirds, the gait they unbeset; To keep the wood till it was day they thoucht. As Wallace thus in the thick forest soucht, For his twa men in mind he had great pain, He wist not weel if they were ta'en or slain, Or scapit hail by ony jeopardy: Thretteen were left him; no mae had he. In the Gask hall their lodging have they ta'en; Fire gat they soon, but meat than had they nane. Twa sheep they took beside them aff a fauld, Ordained to sup into that seemly hauld, Graithit in haste some food for them to dicht: So heard they blaw rude hornis upon heicht. Twa sent he forth to look what it micht be; They baid richt lang, and no tidings heard he, But boustous noise so brimly blew and fast, So other twa into the wood furth passed. Nane come again, but boustously can blaw; Into great ire he sent them furth on raw. When that alane Wallace was leavit there, The awful blast aboundit mickle mair. Than trowit he weel they had his lodging seen; His swerd he drew, of noble metal keen; Syne furth he went where that he heard the horn. Without the door Fawdon was him beforn, As till his sicht, his awn heid in his hand : A cross he made when he saw him so stand. At Wallace in the heid he swakit there,3 And he in haste soon hynt4 it by the hair, Syne out at him again he couth it castIntill his heart he was greatly aghast. Richt weel he trowit that was nae spreit of man, It was some devil, at sic malice began. He wist no weel there langer for to bide; Up through the Hall thus wicht Wallace can glide Till a close stair, the buirdis rave in twyne, Fifteen foot large he lap out of that inn. Up the water, suddenly he couth fare, Again he blent what 'pearance he saw there, He thoucht he saw Fawdoun, that ugly sir, That hail hall he had set in a fire; A great rafter he had intill his hand. Wallace as than no langer wald he stand, Of his gude men full great marvel had he, How they were tint through his feil fantasy. Traists richt weel all this was sooth indeed, Suppose that it no point be of the creed. Power they had with Lucifer that fell, The time when he parted frae heaven to hell.
1 Low. 2 Without. 3 Threw
He has reigned long in contrar my highness.'
All Englishmen said that his desire was richt.
PROSE WRITERS OF THE FOURTEENTH CENTURY.
IN the general history of literature, poetry takes precedence of prose. At first, when the memory was the chief means of preserving literature, men seem to have found it necessary that composition should take a form different from ordinary discourse -a form involving certain measures, breaks, and pauses-not only as appropriate to its being something higher and finer than common speech, but in order that it might be the more easily remembered. Hence, while we cannot trace poetry to its origin, we know that the first prose dates from the sixth century before the Christian era, when it was assumed, in Greece, as the form of certain narratives differing from poetry in scarcely any other respect. In England, as in all other countries, prose was a form of composition scarcely practised for several centuries, during which poetry was comparatively much cultivated. The first specimens of it, entitled to any consideration, date from the reign of Edward III.
SIR JOHN MANDEVILLE.
SIR JOHN MANDEVILLE is usually held as the first English prose writer. He was born at St Albans in the year 1300, and received the liberal education requisite for the profession of medicine. During the
1 The necessary consequence of an interdict. 2 Spent.
3 Caused. Expedition-his journey to the other world. 5 Clothes.
thirty-four years previous to 1356, he travelled in eastern countries, and on his return to England, wrote an account of all he had seen, mixed up with innumerable fables, derived from preceding historians and romancers, as well as from hearsay. His book was originally written in Latin, then translated into French, and finally into English, that every man of my nacioun may undirstonde it.' It is of little use as a description of foreign climes, but valuable as a monument of the language, and of the imperfect learning and reason, and homely ideas, of the age which produced it. The name of the author has become identified with our idea of a mendacious babbler; but this is in a great measure an injustice. Mandeville, with the credulity of the age, embodied in his work every wild grandam tale and monkish fiction which came in his way; but it has been found, that where he quotes preceding authors, or writes from his own observation, he makes no effort at either embellishment or exaggeration. Hence it is not uncommon to find him in one page giving a sensible account of something which he saw, and in the next repeating with equal seriousness the story of Gog and Magog, the tale of men with tails, or the account of the Madagascar bird which could carry elephants through the air. He gives, upon the whole, a pleasing and interesting account of the Mohamedan nations amongst whom he sojourned. Considering the exasperation which was likely to have been occasioned by the recent crusades, those nations appear to have treated the Christian traveller with surprising liberality and kindness. He is himself of a much more liberal spirit than many pious persons of more recent times, and dwells with pleasure upon the numerous Christian sects who lived peaceably under the Saracen dominion. And ye shall understand,' says he, that of all these countries, and of all these isles, and of all these diverse folk, that I have spoken of before, and of diverse laws and of diverse beliefs that they han [have]; yet there is none of them all but that they han some reason within them and understanding, but gif it be the fewer; and that they han certain articles of our faith and some good points of our belief; and that they believen in God, that formed all things and made the world, and clepen him God of But yet they can not speken perfeytly (for there is no man to techen them); but only that they can devise by their natural wit.' Further, in reference to the superior moral conduct of the Mohamedan nations, he relates a conversa
tion with the Sultan of Egypt, which may be here given, not only as a specimen of his language, but with the view of turning this writer of the fourteenth century to some account in instructing the
[A Mohamedan's Lecture on Christian Vices.] [Original Spelling.—And therfore I shalle telle you what the Soudan tolde me upon a day, in his chambre. He leet voyden out of his chambre alle maner of men, lordes and othere; for
he wolde spake with me in conseille. And there he asked me,
how the Cristene men governed hem in oure contree. And I
seyde him, righte wel, thonked be God. And he seyde, treulyche
nay; for ye Cristene men ne recthen righte noghte how untrewly to serve God. Ye scholde geven ensample, &c.]
And therefore I shall tell you what the Soudan told me upon a day, in his chamber. He let voiden out of his chamber all manner of men, lords, and other; for he would speak with me in counsel. And there he asked me how the Christian men governed 'em in our country. And I said [to] him, 'Right wel thonked be God. And he said [to] me, Truly nay, for ye Christian men ne reckon right not how untruly to serve God. Ye should given ensample to the lewed
people for to do well, and ye given 'em ensample to don evil. For the commons, upon festival days, when they shoulden go to church to serve God, then gon they to taverns, and ben there in gluttony all the day and all night, and eaten and drinken, as beasts that have no reason, and wit not when they have enow. And therewithal they ben so proud, that they knowen not how to ben clothed; now long, now short, now strait, now large, now sworded, now daggered, and in all manner guises. They shoulden ben simple, meek, and true, and full of alms-deed, as Jesu was, in whom they trow; but they ben all the contrary, and ever inclined to the evil, and to don evil. And they ben so covetous, that for a little silver they sellen 'eir daughters, 'eir sisters, and 'eir own wives, to putten 'em to lechery. And one withdraweth the wife of another; and none of 'em holdeth faith to another, but they defoulen 'eir law, that Jesu Christ betook 'em keep for 'eir salvation. And thus for 'eir sins, han [have] they lost all this lond that we holden. For 'eir sins here, hath God taken 'em in our honds, not only by strength of ourself, but for 'eir sins. For we knowen well in very sooth, that when ye serve God, God will help you; and when he is with you, no man may be against you. And that know we well by our prophecies, that Christian men shall winnen this lond again out of our honds, when they serven God more devoutly. But as long as they ben of foul and unclean living (as they ben now), we have no dread of 'ein in no kind; for here God will not helpen 'em in no wise.'
And then I asked him how he knew the state of Christian men. And he answered me, that he knew all the state of the commons also by his messengers, that he sent to all londs, in manner as they were merchants of precious stones, of cloths of gold, and of other things, for to knowen the manner of every country amongs Christian men. And then he let clepel in all the lords that he made voiden first out of his chamber; and there he showed me four that were great lords in the country, that tolden me of my country, and of many other Christian countries, as well as if they had been of the same country; and they spak French right well, and the Soudan also, whereof I had great marvel. Alas, that it is great slander to our faith and to our laws, when folk that ben withouten law shall reproven us, and undernemen2 us of our sins. And they that shoulden ben converted to Christ and to the law of Jesu, by our good example and by our acceptable life to God, ben through our wickedness and evil living, far fro us; and strangers fro the holy and very3 belief shall thus appellen us and holden us for wicked levirs and cursed. And truly they say sooth. For the Saracens ben good and faithful. For they keepen entirely the commandment of the holy book Alcoran, that God sent 'em by his messager Mahomet; to the which, as they sayen, St Gabriel, the angel, oftentime told the will of God.
[The Devil's Head in the Valley Perilous.] Beside that isle of Mistorak, upon the left side, nigh to the river Phison, is a marvellous thing. There is a vale between the mountains, that dureth nigh a four mile. And some clepen4 it the Vale Enchanted, some clepen it the Vale of Devils, and some clepen it the Vale Perilous; in that vale hearen5 men oftentime great tempests and thunders, and great murmurs and noises, all day and nights; and great noise as it were sound of tabors and of nakeres6 and trumps, as though it were of a great feast. This vale is all full of devils, and hath been always. And men say there, that it is one of the entries of hell. In that
1 Call. 9 Remind. 8 True. 4 Call. 5 Hear. 6 Nakeres-Nacara (Du Cange), a kind of brazen drum used in the cavalry.
vale is plenty of gold and silver; wherefore many misbelieving men, and many Christian men also, goni in often time, for to have of the treasure that there is, but few comen again; and namely, of the misbelieving men, ne of the Christian men nouther; for they ben anon strangled of devils. And in mid place of that vale, under a rock, is an head of the visage of a devil bodily, full horrible and dreadful to see; and it showeth not but the head, to the shoulders. But there is no man in the world so hardy, Christian man ne other, but that he would ben adrad3 for to behold it; and that it would seemen him to die for dread; so is it hideous for to behold. For he beholdeth every man so sharply with dreadful eyen1 that ben evermore moving and sparkling as fire, and changeth and steereth so often in divers manner, with so horrible countenance, that no man dare not nighen towards him. And fro him cometh smoke and stink, and fire, and so much abomination, that unethe7 no man may there endure. But the good Christian men, that ben stable in the faith, entren well withouten peril: for they will first shriven 'em,8 and marken hem with the token of the Holy Cross ; so that the fiends ne han no power over 'em. But albeit that they ben withouten peril, zit natheles10 ne ben they not withouten dread, when that they seen the devils visibly and bodily all about 'em, that maken full many divers assautsil and menaces in air and in earth, and agasten12 'em with strokes of thunder-blasts and of tempests. And the most dread is, that God will taken vengeance then, of that men han misdone again13 his will. And ye should understand, that when my fellows and I weren in that vale, we weren in great thought whether that we dursten putten our bodies in aventure, to gon in or non, in the protection of God. And some of our fellows accordeden14 to enter, and some noght.15 So there were with us two worthy men, friars minors that were of Lombardy, that said, that if any man would enter, they would go in with us. And when they had said so, upon the gracious trust of God and of 'em,16 we let sing mass; and made every man to be shriven and houseld ;17 and then we entered fourteen persons; but at our going out, we were but nine. And so we wisten18 never, whether that our fellows were lost, or elles19 turned again for dread; but we ne saw them never after; and tho20 were two men of Greece and three of Spain; and our other fellows that would not go in with us, they went by another coast to ben before us, and so they were. And thus we passed that perilous vale, and found therein gold and silver, and precious stones, and rich jewels great plenty, both here and there, as us seemed; but whether that it was, as us seemed, I wot nere ;21 for I touched none, because that the devils be so subtle to make a thing to seem otherwise than it is, for to deceive mankind; and therefore I touched none; and also because that I would not be put out of my devotion: for I was more devout than ever I was before or after, and all for the dread of fiends, that I saw in divers figures; and also for the great multitude of dead bodies that I saw there lying by the way, by all the vale, as though there had been a battle between two kings, and the mightiest of the country, and that the greater part had been discomfitted and slain. And I trow22 that unethe should any country have so much people within him, as lay slain in that vale, as us thought; the which was an hideous sight to seen.23 And I marvelled much, that there
9 Neither. 6 From.
9 Have no. 11 Assaults. 15 Not.
8 Confess themselves. 10 Yet nevertheless. 13 Against. 14 Agreed. 17 To be confessed, and to have the Lord's Supper administered to him.
21 I never knew.